Bible and Chinese history (Su Dongpo & Ecclesiastes)

Quite rare to read an excellent article in the Daily Bread (daily biblical stories) with links to Chinese history. I really enjoyed reading this article by Poh Fang Chia. This clearly shows that Christianity is compatible with Chinese culture.

The poem by Su Dongpo referenced is 《水调歌头·明月几时有》, namely the most famous lines:

人有悲欢离合,月有阴晴圆缺,此事古难全。但愿人长久,千里共婵娟。

The entire poem is much longer, but most people just refer to these 5 lines. The classic song that encapsulates this poem is the one sung by Teresa Teng:

Source: Our Daily Bread (July 15 2020)

Su Dongpo (also known as Su Shi) was one of China’s greatest poets and essayists. While in exile and gazing upon a full moon, he wrote a poem to describe how much he missed his brother. “We rejoice and grieve, gather and leave, while the moon waxes and wanes. Since times of old, nothing remains perfect,” he writes. “May our loved ones live long, beholding this beautiful scene together though thousands of miles apart.”

His poem carries themes found in the book of Ecclesiastes. The author, known as the Teacher (1:1), observed that there’s “a time to weep and a time to laugh . . . a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing” (3:4-5). By pairing two contrasting activities, the Teacher, like Su Dongpo, seems to suggest that all good things must inevitably come to an end.

As Su Dongpo saw the waxing and waning of the moon as another sign that nothing remains perfect, the Teacher also saw in creation God’s providential ordering of the world He’d made. God oversees the course of events, and “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (v. 11).

Life may be unpredictable and sometimes filled with painful separations, but we can take heart that everything takes place under God’s gaze. We can enjoy life and treasure the moments—the good and the bad—for our loving God is with us.

By Poh Fang Chia

REFLECT & PRAY
Thank You, loving Father, for watching over all seasons of my life. Help me to trust in You and enjoy the life You’ve given me.

What are some things you’re afraid to try because of life’s unpredictability? How can you lean on Jesus as you step forward in courage to forge new friendships and deepen relationships?

SCRIPTURE INSIGHT
The book of Ecclesiastes is a book for a postmodern world. The “Preacher,” whom many believe was Solomon, speaks of the frustrations and disappointments of life. Two key phrases in the book are “everything is meaningless” (1:1) and “under the sun” (v. 3). The phrase “everything is meaningless” speaks of life lived on human terms and according to the values of this world, which is described by the phrase “under the sun.” In the end, the Preacher says that the answer to this meaninglessness is to look beyond this world and “remember your Creator” (12:1), who is the only source of true meaning in this life.

To learn more about the book of Ecclesiastes, visit The Bible Project, Old Testament Series. Bill Crowder

Original source: https://odb.org/2020/07/15/treasure-the-moments